Put First things First: This habit is related to the time management in the field of life. The phrase Organize and execute around priorities best explains this habit of putting first things first.
Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what first things are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. The following time management matrix will help the management to put first things first.
The two factors that define an activity are urgent and important.
Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us for immediate attention and action. They are usually right in front of us. And often they are pleasant, easy, and fun to do. But so often they are unimportant. Importance, on the other hand, has to do with results. If something is important, it contributes to your mission your values, your high priority goals.
Now rank the above activities of the quadrants according to your priority. Most of us react to urgent matters. Effective people act on important matters which require more initiative and more pro-activity. They act to seize opportunity, to make things happen. If we do not practice this habit and do not have a clear idea of what is important, of the results we desire in our lives, we are easily diverted into responding to the urgent.
Effective people stay out of quadrants III and IV because, urgent or not, they are not important. They spend comparatively more time in quadrant II than in I. Quadrant II is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with things that are not urgent, but are important. It deals with things building relationships, writing a personal mission statement, long range planning, exercising, preventive maintenance, preparation and most people never think of doing these because they are not urgent.
To paraphrase Peter Drucker, effective people are not problem minded; they are opportunity minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. They think preventively. They have genuine quadrant I crises and emergencies that require immediate attention, but the number is comparatively small. They keep a balance between quadrant I and II focusing on important but not urgent activities. Quadrant II activities have a kind of impact that would make a tremendous positive difference in their life. By doing the quadrant II activities their effectiveness takes a quantum leap.
First things First:
Good scheduling gives you the time to do things you never seem to have time for.
Many people use the terms planning and scheduling interchangeably, but the two words refers to two different activities. Planning is deciding what to do. Scheduling is deciding when to do it. Each day, as you schedule the events that will fill your hours, you must chart that dangerous between Parkinson and Murphy.
Parkinson’s law says if you allow too much time for a task, the task will take up all the time that you allow. Murphy’s law cautions you that everything seems to take longer than you think it will. If you do not allow adequate time for a task, task will, take as much time as it needs anyway. In either case, your challenge is to allow enough time, but not too much, for every task.
Common responses include planning, improving procedures, research and analysis, thinking and learning. Yet few of us schedule time for these activities. That is why they do not occur as often as we wish. Try scheduling the activities you wish you had more time for, and see if you do not spend more time doing them.
A schedule should be written. You cannot remember everything you plan to do in the midst of a hectic day. The schedule should be on a single sheet. Writing things down helps you clarify your thoughts and focus on what you are trying to accomplish. It will increase your commitment to your daily goals.
The biggest mistake you can make is to schedule every minute of your day. You must leave room for the unexpected. How much flexibility you should allow depends on several factors. The more you interact with others, the more flexibility you will need. The more you work in isolation, the less flexibility you will need, since you will have fewer interruptions. Remember Parkinson’s law as you are trying to decide which flexibility pattern to use. Have at least one alternative plan for those days when the unexpected does not happen.
Schedule the morning as tightly as possible. Make sure the first hour is productive. The first hour sets a pattern for the day. If you make a poor start, you will spend all day trying to catch up. Do not make your day any more fragmented than it already is. If you have a number of phone calls to make, try to handle them all at the same time. If you have to write a number of letters, try to do all of them at the same time. If you group related items in your schedule, you will not have to make as many psychological shifts and so the day will seem easier.
To get more done, take advantage of small time gaps. There are dozens of these in a day. They may happen between major tasks, or after interruptions. The key is to prepare. List all the tasks you can do in five to ten minutes e.g. make a phone call, write a memo, schedule appointments, etc.
Learn to make transition time productive. Transition time consists mostly of waiting time or travel time. Many people think of waiting time as a gift. They use it for reading or planning – things they never seem to have time for.
You should always have alternative activities in mind when you are faced with waiting time. Not only will you get something done, you will feel less frustrated.
Before you add anything to your schedule, think about its purpose. When something unexpected arises, do not automatically take off after it. Stop and ask yourself. Is this unexpected event more important than what I had planned to do instead? If it is more important, go ahead and pursue it. You should always focus on the most important items.